Sunday, January 31, 2016

Valentine's Gift Ideas For Your Kids

Valentine's Day is a family affair in our house. This year we're attending a family dance and planning a fancy lunch out with the kids in tow (should be interesting when fine china and a 3 year old are involved), and making our own chocolate covered strawberries for dessert. Hubs and I always get each other a little something for "the day" but  we always get the kids gifts as well.

Here's a few ideas that make great gifts for kids (for all price ranges):

1.) Sticker books

2.) Fuji Instax Mini camera. Simple enough for kids to use themselves and takes me back to my own first camera.

3.) Harry Potter coloring book. This has been on my oldest's wish list since Christmas and it's now finally in stock.

4.) Pajamas - it seems like fun pajamas can make bedtime routines that much easier.

5.) Paint your own tea set

6.) Crafts. Markers, paper, glitter glue, scissors. Kids love all of it.

7.) Box of chocolates. We love going to our local chocolate factory, watching them make the chocolates, and purchasing a fresh box or you can pick one up at the store. Either way, kids love a special treat.

8.) Goosebumps Blu-Ray.

9.) Gel pens. My kids got a pack for Christmas and are obsessed with them. I may have used them a time or two myself recently.

10.) Cabbage Patch Cuties. Being a child from the 80's, Cabbage Patch dolls hold a special place in my kid heart. I absolutely love these CP Cuties. My daughter has a decent collection of these dolls going.

11.) Mix and Match Magnetic Animals. I've got a lot of animals lovers at daycare right now, making this the perfect daycare Valentine's Day gift this year.

Friday, January 29, 2016

January Weekend

We've gotten fairly lazy with these winter weekends. My goal for the winter was to try out a few new things, but keep things calm and not over schedule our weekends. So far I've kept to that goal. On Saturday we lunched, we painted at Glazed Expressions (our "big" outing for the weekend), ran errands, and did some extra shopping. On Sunday we did nothing (other than some website work). We thought about going ice skating, but instead we lounged at home, cleaned bedrooms, and cooked food for our busy week.

Lauren and I have been working hard on the website. Some people play on Friday nights, I work. For now. Someday I'll have my Friday nights back.

Saturday morning cuddles. These two were cuddle buddies all weekend long.

Lunch at a local Mexican restaurant. Our rule for the meal was we all had to try something new.

Our next stop was Glazed Expressions. We went here last year for my birthday and loved it. It's a bit pricey so we made a deal to only go once a year. Last year we painted a platter and made a candle. This year we all painted a coffee mug. Each mug was painted very uniquely. 

The kids did a great job with their mugs.

After painting, this cute girl and I went dress shopping for an upcoming family Valentine's dance we'll be attending. Then we all went to Target. We found some excellent clearance items, including (but totally not limited at) new quilts, blankets, and bed sheets for the minis.

Our Saturday night was obviously as wild as our Friday night.

Sunday was a lot of napping, relaxing, football and X-Files watching, playing, laundry folding, and cooking. It may not have been a day running around town, but it was nicely spent.

So, in short, winter = time at home and lots of relaxing. We're saving our energy for spring.

Weekend Planner

Welcome to our weekly Thursday morning post about what's going on in the Des Moines, Iowa area. We'll share what we'll be doing, great finds, restaurants to eat at, shops to drop some cash at, and just all the great things Des Moines has to offer families.

What We're Doing:
  • Playground playing
  • Hiking. Nearly 50 degrees in January requires spending lots of time outdoors. Lots of time outdoors.
  • Errand running. This is always a given, but we'll also be stopping at Raygun for our Iowa Caucus shirts and a few other local shops.

Other Happenings:

  • Every Family Rocks at the Science Center of Iowa
  • Walk around the Sculpture Park
  • Take a walk around the Raccoon River Park trail and end the 3 mile walk with a playground visit.

Other Things To Do This Weekend:

  • Snow shoeing. Check out your local Parks and Recreation for rentals (if you don't own any).
  • Family movie night. The Goosebumps movie just came out this past Tuesday. Make popcorn, grab some treats, and turn your living room into a movie theater.
  • Visit your local botanical garden. I love going to ours this time of year because it's like a little bit of a tropical island on our visit.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Valentine Cookie Sandwiches

I'm all about simple, easy, and cute. One morning, the kids asked for cookies. I got bored making just plain chocolate chip cookies. I rummaged through my cupboards and found a few things to take the cookies to the next level.

Heart shaped cookie sheet, cookie mix, and frosting. Make the cookies as directed on the package, spray pan and bake cookies in the heart shapes. After cooling, remove and decorate how you want.

We did a layer of frosting in between two cookies, iced the top, and covered in sprinkles.

I couldn't find any of my decorating tools (okay, so I totally didn't look for them because I didn't want to take the time to do so). Instead, I used a Ziploc baggie and cut the tip off of one end of the bag. It worked great.

So much frosting. I actually don't like frosting, so I never even tried them, but the kids LOVED them and they turned out way cuter than just plain chocolate chip cookies.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

3 Day Weekend In January

The minis had MLK Day off from school. I found this out last minute, but my daycare families were awesome enough to let me take the day off too. We had an excellent weekend filled with little friends birthday parties, time with friends, and a night at the local water park hotel.

Friday night dance party also means spreading blankets on the floor to dance on. Whatever keeps them happy I suppose.

A little bit of relaxing before heading off to two friends birthday parties at Chuck E Cheese's. The kids had a great time, I got in a few games of skee ball, and they were more than ready for naps afterward.

Elizabeth loved all of the kiddie rides (she rode one a dozen times) and was super excited to meet Chuck E Cheese.

Of all of the games, their favorite thing was a photo booth that made little id cards for them. So many id cards came home with us. Strangely they all seem to have disappeared....

As if birthday cake wasn't enough, they begged to use their Scratch gift cards. I can't say I was disappointed by their request.

Later that afternoon, we had another birthday party for two little friends. This time at our favorite roller skating place. The kids had a great time, got to eat pizza, and showed improvement from our NYE roller skating adventure.

After our big Saturday with birthday parties, the minis had some chill out time during the day on Sunday while I met a friend for coffee. Hubs and I decided to surprise the minis with a trip to our local water park hotel (that's 10 minutes from our house) since they didn't have school on Monday (MLK Day). We went last year and the kids had a blast! This year we got a pool side room (recommended so you don't get cold walking to and from the pool area) and spent hours swimming and enjoying the pool side tiki bar.

It seems a lot of other people had the same idea Hubs and I did because the hotel was booked and the pool packed with families. The pool stayed open later than usual on a Sunday night. As the night wore on, the pool became less crowded and the kids were able to spend over an hour jumping and cannon balling into the pool.

Max spent most of his time going down big slides.

Sandwiched between two of my favorite side kicks.

Big comfy beds.

The view from our hotel room door.

Monday morning we spent in the pool for a couple of hours, warmed up in the hotel room, and then checked out. After checking out, we went home and took naps. Long, four hour naps. This goes down as one of the best days off because it was really a day off and not a day spent running all around (how my days off typically go). We'll definitely keep the Ramada Tropics Resort on our list of winter activities for next year.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016


"I need to create. Creating for me is what air and water are to others. What seems mundane to an outsider means I've created an entire world in my mind around this mundane thing. It's my challenge to get that world out of my head so others can experience it too."
I wrote these words in an email I received from someone wondering about my process. My process. This line had me stumped. I answered the question to the best of my ability:
I mean, I just think things. I think things and I know they're good things when I get super excited about them. It's like when you feel butterflies in your stomach, but I feel them all over my body. My fingers tingle, my brain works faster than I can type, and I'm sure to the outside eye, I look frantic. Like a mad scientists only staring  unblinking at my computer screen.
It's that way with activities or the theme days I create for daycare. I just look at an every day thing and boom! It hits. The need to make something out of nothing. Kind of like what I'm writing about now. Really I'm writing about nothing, but to me it's something.
Everyone is hell bent on creating the next thing. THE THING. The next big thing. The next perfect thing. No one has ever called me a perfectionist and I don't anticipate ever fitting into that category. There's too many thoughts and too much for me to do to perfect just one thing.
So I guess that's my process. I'm not out to create the thing. I just need to create something. Do something. In just doing something I've managed to impact more people than if I had waited around to create the thing. Something is far better than nothing.
I'm quite certain I left this emailer with far more questions than answers.
Why make just regular chocolate chip cookies when you can make chocolate chip cookie sandwiches??? All from staring at a package of cookie mix sitting on the counter on a Tuesday morning.
Why make just regular chocolate chip cookies when you can make chocolate chip cookie sandwiches??? All from staring at a package of cookie mix sitting on the counter on a Tuesday morning.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Weekend Planner

Welcome to our weekly Thursday morning post about what's going on in the Des Moines, Iowa area. We'll share what we'll be doing, great finds, restaurants to eat at, shops to drop some cash at, and just all the great things Des Moines has to offer families.
What We're Doing:
  • Lots of little friends birthday parties on Saturday. I'll need a drink Saturday night I'm quite certain.
  • Ramada Tropics Resort. Water park time for our three day weekend!
Other Happenings:
  • Snowshoe Stomp in Greenwood/Ashworth Park (Saturday 10 a.m.). $5 per person covers snowshoes and hot chocolate. I hope there's another opportunity to try this out this winter.
  • Botanical Center of Greater Des Moines. Feels like summer in the middle of winter. 
  • Des Moines Buccaneers game (Saturday 7 p.m.). My kids are always thoroughly entertained by hockey games.
  • Learn to Skate Class at Brenton Skating Plaza (Sunday 10 a.m.). One of these weekends the kids and I are going to go to one of these so they can learn to ice skate!
  • American Presidents: Life Portraits at Valley West Mall. This would be great for a grade school age child to see. The display will remain up until February 14.
A Few Other Ideas:
  • Visit your local museum or art center.
  • Make Valentine's decorations. We've made our own before or stop by Michael's to pick up kits for the kids to do.
  • Dance party. We suck but we love them. Plus it's a great energy waster and exercise for all.